Monika Maron

Monika Maron was born in Berlin in 1941. She was brought up by her mother, Hella Iglarz. After her mother got married and moved to East Berlin, she moved to the home of her step-father, Karl Maron, who was GDR Minister of Internal Affairs from 1955 to 1963. Between high school and university, she spent a year working as a hairstylist. After working two years as a director’s assistant at GDR-TV, she studied drama and art history. She then worked as a journalist in East Berlin and, after the death of her step-father in 1976, eventually became a professional writer. In 1988, she left the GDR and moved to Hamburg, returning to the Spree in 1993.

She became well-known in West Germany after her first novel »Flugasche« (1981; t: »Flight of Ashes«, 1986) was published. Its publication was banned in East Germany. At the time, she was one of the first writers to make pollution a major theme in a work of fiction by denouncing environ – mental offences committed at East Germany’s open-cast brown coal mines. Maron’s experience as a journalist also came into play in the novel; the protagonist Josefa is a reporter sent by her editors to write a story on the city of Bitterfeld and its coal mine. Josefa’s visit allows Maron to voice criticism of the GDR’s »perfect system of leveling«.

With her second novel, »Die Überläuferin« (1986; t: »The Defector«, 1988), also banned in East Germany, Maron finally achieved her real breakthrough as an author. This work, combined with the Germany-to-Germany correspondence between Maron and the writer Joseph von Westphalen that was published soon afterwards in »Zeit-Magazin«, made her presence intolerable to the East German socialist state. As a result she was granted permission to leave for West Germany in 1988. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Maron continued to grapple artistically both with themes from German history and her own life story – for example in the novel »Stille Zeile sechs« (1991; t: »Silent Close No. 6«) or in the family saga »Pawels Briefe« (1999; t:. »Pavel’s Letters«, 2003), about her grandfather’s murder during the Nazi regime. In her work, Maron frequently deals with the individual within social environments and historical contexts. This remains the case in her later novels, »Animal triste« (1995; t: »Animal Triste«, 2000), »Endmoränen« (2002; t: End moraines) and its highly entertaining sequel »Ach Glück« (2007; t: Oh, happiness), in which the author addresses various aspects of the ageing process.

Maron has not forgotten her origins; she recently published a report entitled »Bitterfelder Bogen« (2009; t: Bitterfeld bend) about the region’s revival, successfully renamed ›Solar Valley‹, emerging from the sense of sinking resignation that she documented almost twenty-five years ago. The author’s many awards include the Kleist Prize, the Friedrich Hölderlin Literature Prize and the Deutschen Nationalstiftung’s National Prize. Monika Maron lives and works in Berlin.

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